Analysts See 'Unproven' Technology, Reliability Slowing Electric Car Acceptance
BOULDER, Colo.-- The first highway-capable plug-in electric vehicles (PEVs) for the mass market will be available for sale by the end of 2010. These vehicles, which will initially include the battery electric Nissan Leaf and the plug-in hybrid Chevrolet Volt, will enable drivers to reduce both gasoline expenses and greenhouse gas emissions. However, according to a new survey from Pike Research, these selling points may not be enough to overcome key objections among some skeptical consumers – namely, the concerns that PEV technology has not yet been proven, and that PEVs may not be reliable as traditional gasoline vehicles.
“Despite the skepticism of many consumers, the early adopter market should easily meet the industry’s expectations for the first few years of electric vehicle sales”
“The electric vehicle industry has been very focused on addressing so-called driving ‘range anxiety’, the term used to describe consumers’ qualms about the effective range of a PEV on a single charge,” says senior analyst John Gartner. “But the fact is that a ‘wait-and-see’ approach about the technology itself was a greater issue for consumers in our survey. It could easily take several years for mainstream car shoppers to get comfortable with the idea of electric vehicles.”
However, adds senior analyst Dave Hurst, the flip side of Pike Research’s survey was that 44% of respondents stated that they would be “extremely” or “very” interested in purchasing a PEV with a driving range of 40 to 100 miles and an electricity cost equivalent of $0.75 per gallon. “Despite the skepticism of many consumers, the early adopter market should easily meet the industry’s expectations for the first few years of electric vehicle sales,” says Hurst.
Other key findings of the survey are as follows:
- 83% of survey respondents drive 40 miles or less in a typical day, making “range anxiety” a non-issue for the majority of prospective PEV drivers.
- In Pike Research’s survey, levels of interest in PEVs were not dramatically different between demographic segments such as age, gender, income, and level of education, suggesting that these vehicles should have solid mass-market appeal in the long term.
- Price sensitivity analysis indicates that automakers will face challenges when marketing PEVs. Pike Research’s survey finds that the optimal price point (OPP) for PEVs is 18.75% above the base price of a comparable gasoline vehicle, but this is still significantly lower than automakers’ intended prices.
- The survey also demonstrates that one size does not fit all when it comes to consumer PEV preferences. When asked to choose between five different plug-in hybrid and all-electric range/price options, respondents did not state a clear preference for any single configuration. For example, interest levels were very similar for less expensive plug-in hybrids with a 10-mile range and more expensive all-electric vehicles with a 100-mile range.
- When asked which vehicle brands they would consider for an electric vehicle, panelists were most likely to choose Ford (51%) and Honda (50%), two automakers who do not currently have PEVs on the market. Chevrolet (45%) and Nissan (33%), the two major manufacturers launching models in 2010, ranked third and fifth, respectively.
Pike Research is a market research and consulting firm that provides in-depth analysis of global clean technology markets. The company’s research methodology combines supply-side industry analysis, end-user primary research and demand assessment, and deep examination of technology trends to provide a comprehensive view of the Smart Energy, Clean Transportation, Clean Industry, and Building Efficiency sectors. For more information, visit www.pikeresearch.com or call +1.303.997.4619.
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